Here’s this week’s episode of Renee and Frei which I hope you enjoy. I’m still really unwell so I haven’t read it out for you but feel free to try the accents when you’re reading!
As always, please excuse the typos.
Renee ignored the many slaver owners gathered who all cast curious glances her way as she strode toward the bathrooms. When she’d needed to help liberate Frei’s family from Jäger and his brother Sven, she’d studied the layout used in many of the estates. Frei had once told her that owners used those layouts so that when any authorities called or decided to raid them, everyone knew where to sneak out to avoid capture.
She didn’t know why they bothered when the owners had so many friends in the slavery network. She slowed as she spotted Derek Lavelle and Alanna who were in deep conversation with a cretin that she recognised from her assignment with Hartmann.
“You have a lot of interesting outfits,” the guy said to her making sure she could see him raking his gaze over her. He was a lot shorter than her with a tooth missing at the top and an eyebrow that covered both of his beady eyes. “Frau Hartmann is very good at dressing you.”
“I can dress myself, thank you.” Renee kept her tone polite trying not to yell at the guy. She’d been getting closer to Hartmann but she had a lot of really smarmy friends.
“Does she let you think that, girl?” the guy flicked his gaze up and down her.
“Did you just call me girl?” Renee folded her arms.
“Herr Border does not hold his drink well,” Hartmann said in her scathing tone. “And he will stop annoying you.”
Border stooped in some weird bow and strode away. Renee smiled at Hartmann as if she was delighted to have been protected like she couldn’t look after herself but then the thief caught her eye. Yes, it was the thief who’d made off with Hartmann’s property and she was just standing there with an amused look on her face and a twinkle in her icy blue eyes.
Renee pulled a pen from her C.I.G stash trying not to smile to herself at the memory of Aeron’s face when she started pulling equipment out of her bra. She clicked the top of it and captured a picture of Lavelle, Alanna and Border then tapped her pen to switch it off and stashed it away. She’d normally send it straight through to Bess but, as Nan had recommended, they were doing it the old fashioned way.
“Worthington,” Border said as if he was delighted to see her again. “I see you’re still creeping around for her then.”
Renee turned and looked him up and down. “If you mean Sabine then I’m always happy to entertain her.” She nodded to the Lavelles but made sure to linger on Alanna. She looked highly medicated almost as if someone from Serenity had given her a shot, as Aeron called them.
“Aeron Lorelei, interesting name.” Renee’s voice was steadier than her pounding heartrate.
Renee blinked trying to clear the memory. Derek Lavelle’s lips were moving but she had no idea what he was saying.
“You need me to repeat that?” Derek Lavelle said, cigar in his mouth, smarmy expression on his face and his hand placed firmly on Alanna’s butt.
“Yes,” Renee mumbled not sure why she felt woozy.
“I said, it’s nice—”
“Doc, don’t give me that look. I swear Aimee was just helping out.” Aeron nodded and held up her elegant hands. How could she call them paws? They were so graceful when she held the violin. “She got distracted by the floor polisher… she didn’t mean to run over Val’s foot or nothin’.”
Renee put on her best “Llys-glower” as the inmates called it. “Why was she out of her cell?”
“Er…” Aeron looked to Aimee, Nora and Tiz who looked back at her, chocolate all over their faces, as if hoping she’d come up with something. “She… er… don’t like how mucky them floors get.”
The girls nodded like that was true.
“I don’t,” Aimee said mid chew on the dessert she’d raided from the kitchens. “They look shiny now.”
Tiz nodded with a flinch. “They do.”
“They’re fun to skate on,” Nora said with a grin and a shrug. “Even the guards are skating on them.”
Renee met Aeron’s mock-innocent look then shook her head. She didn’t know what it was about Aeron but that look turned her temper into the need to hug.
“Nothing to do with using the floor polisher to confuse the cook into thinking the freezer was playing up again so you could pinch the leftover cake?” Renee said in her best attempt at a stern tone. She was fighting the urge to laugh but Val, the head guard, was pouting about her foot and threatening to get the guards to leave shift in protest.
“We weren’t pinching,” Tiz said licking the chocolate off her lips. “We were getting rid of the garbage.”
Nora nodded, picking at her plasters. “They were gonna throw out the cake.”
Aeron rubbed at the back of her neck. “We didn’t know it was for the guards.”
Renee chewed her lip just to stop herself laughing. “Then, I suggest that you make more cake for the guards to say sorry and then we’ll put the floor polisher away so inmates can’t stand on it and have fun spinning around.” She held Val’s gaze knowing she was in a mood over the cake more than her foot.
“I want extra topping,” Val muttered but nodded, glared at Aeron then turned and stomped off.
Renee met Aeron’s gaze again and tried to ignore the wriggle in her stomach. She was not attracted to her.
“You had too much wine?” Derek Lavelle asked as Border screwed up beady eyes at her.
Renee felt woozier still so she turned and hurried toward the bathrooms. She burst through the door and shut it behind her. Stosur was washing up in the sink and raised her eyebrows.
“Either I’ve had venom or I need a vacation.” Renee headed to her and held her shaking hand out.
Stosur plucked her kit from her handbag and jabbed Renee’s finger. “You’ve been near Gem?”
“Yes, I threw him onto the floor and threatened to shoot him.” Renee winced as Stosur injected her with something fluorescent.
“The entrance has spray holes. It is usually given to someone when he wants them to give him information.” Stosur studied her device then checked Renee’s forehead with another device. “Antidote is working.”
“Why is he hitting me with it?” Renee asked glad to feel calmer.
“He’s probably hit most of the guests with it,” Stosur said and put the devices back into her bag. “Owners tend to be immune as do valuable slaves… it doesn’t normally cause your side effects… you must have been allergic to it.”
“Or anemic,” Renee said with a shrug. “My moods are usually up and down when I have a period.”
Stosur smiled as if she’d said something courageous.
“If you think that’s cool, I totally bloat too.” She pointed to her ankles. “I can be a jock and get puffy ankles.”
“Most females are given medication to prevent this… wives, mistresses and slaves alike.” Stosur lowered her voice. “It’s seen as taboo to have periods.”
Renee rolled her eyes. “Abducting people and selling them is fine but producing eggs, nuh uh.” And she sounded American not English. “I dare say that they need an institution more than some of Lock’s and I’s friends.”
Stosur nodded then glanced at the door, backed up and slipped into one of the cubicles.
Renee turned as Alanna Lavelle crept in then closed the door behind her and locked it.
“Are you alright?” She asked, walking over to her.
Renee switched on the taps and dabbed at her hand. “I get funny turns sometimes.”
Alanna glanced back at the door. “I do too… Derek is so kind to me. I used to get them more…” She fussed with her hair, some thought whirring as she flicked her eyes to and fro, then she tutted to herself and produced a card from her handbag. “That’s my doctor’s name… he’s good with me… he’s a bit… odd… but the medication helps.”
Renee smiled. “You’re so sweet. It’s really nice just to talk to someone… Locks is kind about it… Samson less so… but they don’t understand.”
Lavelle nodded as if relieved someone knew how she felt. “Same as Derek.” She reached out and gave Renee’s hand a squeeze. “I’m happy to chat if you need it. The shots really help.”
Renee squeezed back then Lavelle turned and hurried out. Renee looked at the card then narrowed her eyes.
“That was a favorable interaction,” Stosur said as she slipped from the cubicle. “But I’m unsure if she was telling of a doctor or a psychiatrist?”
“I wouldn’t call this guy either,” Renee said and held it up to show Stosur. “I’ve been wondering where this guy disappeared to.”
Frei poked her head through the door. “Border just informed me you were being strange.”
“Venom but the antidote has worked,” Stosur said, eyes still on Renee. “You know of this doctor?”
Frei closed the door behind her. “Doctor?”
“Or was,” Renee said and met Frei’s icy blues. “It seems we’ve located none other than Doctor Bison.”